Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cashing It Outside

A rite of spring occurred yesterday evening; my home group met for the first time this year outside. And while it remains an NA meeting, it does change the flavor of it somewhat. For one, no one has to leave the room to go smoke; you can sit right at your table and do so if you are so inclined. And with such a large meeting area, the side conversations/crosstalk/whatever aren't so noticeable, and aren't as distracting. And except for the times when the trains are going by, the sharing is a bit more personal and meaningful.
And as I almost always do, I left there feeling better than I did when I arrived. After a quiet few days and a civil text exchange in the afternoon, the ex suddenly went MOTY circa 2001 on me. It was more depressing than anything else; the inevitable day of reckoning for her is drawing nearer and nearer, as the stubborn, dogged refusal to change becomes more apparent. And as the meeting unfolded, I could have used the forum, and taken advantage of the credibility I have, to air the grievances.
But I didn't. For one, it's uncomfortable to hear whenever anyone does it. But more importantly, in spite of the differences now between us, in spite of feelings I am carrying that I believe are justified, 1) I am not entitled to use the people in the fellowship as a jury, because 2) whatever my views on her motives and actions, for the moment at least, she is also another person in the rooms, and it's not my place to make the already difficult-in-any-circumstances road of early recovery even more so. For better or worse, wax and wane, I have been a part of the fellowship here for nearly two decades, and ego aside, I have some credibility and respect among many of my peers. I am not going to use it up for personal and vindictive reasons. One of the watershed moments of my recovery process was (largely, not completely) standing by in the aftermath of the breakup with MOTY seventeen years ago, enduring the torrents of her verbal abuse that followed for months in the rooms without (often)  responding, and letting people make up their own minds about what the true deal was. It ended up being one of the catapults to my spiritual growth that has allowed me to live and enjoy a new way of life. And it would be a repudiation of just about everything I've ever learned and practiced to throw that aside now and engage in vituperative character assassination of someone who, however frustrating she is to deal with, doesn't know better, that is just at the beginning of her journey--and who is going to need a great deal of help, should she actually choose to recover, from her peers. It's not my place to cause any complications or cast any shade on the possibility of that happening. I have a support network, and most of them are aware of how I feel, and my views on what has happened, but I am not going to share them in meetings or with people I don't know well. That would cross the line between "needing to talk about how I feel" and "trying to manipulate the situation and the environment." I"m not totally sure where the line is, but I do know blasting her in a meeting that is attended by a dozen women she will soon be living with in a residential program would be over it.
It is a Twelve-Step Program, the final step of which speaks of "carrying the message." Mess with age becomes message, and I've been around long enough that to know the difference and to practice it. I managed to talk coherently and positively last night without having to refer to that situation in any way other than to acknowledge that it is a struggle at times, and that even with the amount of clean time I have, ending a relationship that you were deeply emotionally attached to is never easy and never without feeling. You don't get a pass on things happening that you don't want to experience with clean time and with the steps.
You just learn how to deal with them in a responsible and effective manner, and how to apply spiritual principles to your decision-making when your emotions are straining to take over the cockpit. That's what makes for a better life, and that's what helps put drug addiction behind you. Because the decision to use drugs, especially after a period of abstinence, is always emotion-based, not rational and certainly not spiritually based. And the thing that people in early recovery need to see and hear the most from the experienced members is examples of keeping emotions in check and not allowing them to take over our lives. If a guy with 18 years clean is ranting and raving in a meeting, calling down the curses of the Almighty on someone he has just spent months extolling as the love of his life--well, people notice that shit, and not in a good way.
Well, there was nothing to notice like that last night, coming from me. In fact, hopefully I was able to reach some people with examples of another way to go.

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